Seasons of Wrestling

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In a couple of weeks — on April 28 in Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas — we are hosting our first IF:Citywide. Our dream is that women who might not be comfortable walking through the doors of a church or joining a small group but — who at the very least — are curious about God will grab some food and a friend or two and come out.

It will be a time to talk about what we think about when we think about God — about Jesus. It will be a space that is safe for the questions and the wrestling. And hopefully it will be an event where women from all different walks of life and in all different stages of the journey can sigh, and say, “me too.” 

Here’s a little bit of my story so you know that I truly believe wrestling co-mingles with faith. I also tucked in some song lyrics that have made me feel a little less out there. 

In high school, I was very involved in our church’s youth group, in K-Life, and in Younglife. I worked so hard to be a “good Christian girl.” Some Tuesday before school we’d gather for Pancakes & Prayer. I went mostly for the pancakes — and for the appearances. One Tuesday in the silence, my doubts and questions couldn’t be silenced. Why was everything I did for God not enough? Why didn’t He seem more real to me? Was I the lukewarm believer that Revelation warned about? Would I be saved or would God spit me out?

What will be left when I’ve drawn my last breath
Besides the folks I’ve met and the folks who’ve known me
Will I discover a soul-saving love
Or just the dirt above and below me
Doubting Thomas, Nickel Creek

In college and well into my twenties, I tried to play the game but if I’m honest I was just plain tired of all the rules. I wanted to live my life my way. I was still a good-ish girl but the desire to just be normal and enjoy life tugged at me more than Jesus did. Church was an old friend I would pop in on from time to time but not someone I would ever be real with. Could I believe in God and not go to church?

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
Awake My Soul, Mumford & Sons

One of the guys I dated and dreamed of marrying went to church a little more regularly and so, of course like any proper girlfriend, I would put on my Sunday’s best and go with him. His church was different — more contemporary, more evangelical — than the one I had grown up in. I would get so distracted watching the folks in front of me lift their hands and dance in the aisles to the worship music. Where did their freedom and confidence come from? One Sunday after church, with tears streaming down my face I asked him, how church could make him feel good when it left me feeling so — ashamed?  I envied his simple faith. Why did mine feel so much more complicated? Could God love me in spite of my bad behavior? Why couldn’t I have God and happiness too?

Can you lie next to her
And give her your heart, your heart
As well as your body
And can you lie next to her
And confess your love, your love
As well as your folly
And can you kneel before the king
And say I’m clean, I’m clean

White Blank Page, Mumford & Sons

After the church-going boy and my relationship imploded, I moved to Nashville to work for a Christian publisher. I guess in the interview I knew enough about God to say all the right things but in reality my relationship with God was still messy at best. One day as I was perusing twitter for work, I stumbled upon a blog post by a local pastor about his man crush. I read it and sent it to a friend and asked if she’d visit his church with me on Sunday. She said yes, and we went, and I found a community that believed and lived out words that changed my life.

“Nobody’s Perfect. Everyone’s Welcome. Anything’s Possible.”

Those words, that pastor, and that church reshaped my view of God. Could God be more than a life-raft headed toward Heaven? Could He be good enough to run towards me — His wandering daughter? Could His grace be for me — for today? Could I have an abundant life in and with God like my new friends? I discovered for the first time in my life, I could.

It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start
Roll Away Your Stone, Mumford & Sons

That brings us to today, to a life in ministry, where surprisingly, following God has felt hard again. In an attempt to get to the bottom of whatever was happening in my weary soul, I sought out spiritual direction that quickly helped me see that I’ve reverted back to working at and for God, not necessarily with Him. I truly want to know God more fully but — if I’m honest — I am real tired and just a little burnt out on religion. Working harder is not working for me anymore. How can I  “learn the unforced rhythms of grace” for myself and for others? How can find God in my rest and not just in my work?

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be
Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons

Well, that’s just a few snippets of my journey. If it didn’t sound like the ramblings of a crazy woman, if you saw a little of yourself here — somewhere, or if you are passionate about creating spaces where women can wrestle so that they may know God more, check out more information about the heart of IF:Citywide. We’ll be in Dallas in April and hopefully in a city near you this fall. 

IF:Citywide Dallas

What are you wrestling through right now? 

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I love this Lindsey. When I hired you at Thomas Nelson, I wasn’t quite sure where you were spiritually, but I felt so impressed to hire you. I sensed you were open for a change and at a crossroads in your life. Gail and I prayed for you every day. I am so proud of who you are and what you are becoming. You inspire me!

    • lindseyrnobles

      So grateful for you and Gail! Not sure anyone has ever invested in me more than you two. I cannot imagine what my life would look like without you believing in me. Miss you and hope our paths cross soon. It’s been too long!

  • Your “today” echoes my own, and I think you may have just helped me pinpoint what my problem has been lately! Thank you for being honest. I’ll be praying for you (yes, really 😉 ) as you work this stuff out too!

    • lindseyrnobles

      thank you aymie!

  • Kristen Lindstedt

    I have been trying to get my heart into words, and find myself in a very similar “today” as you do. Thank you for putting to words some of my thoughts and feelings, and for being willing to share even the tough stuff. It’s not easy to do, and this is an especially confusing part of faith/religion/belief, but putting it on paper begins to bring light to the darkness. ❤️

    • lindseyrnobles

      Feel ya Kristen 🙂

  • Bethany Clemenson

    Wow Lindsey! Thank you for being vulnerable. After growing up having lots of “head knowledge” about being a Christian…I truly surrendered and asked for clear direction (yes, I’m 40….so I’m a slow learner, don’t judge me;-) Well…I have quit my corporate job after it became crystal clear that I was looking for acceptance and worth in the wrong places. I am seeking my place in ministry and hoping that it can be something that will also allow me to help to support my family.

    IF Gathering was so impactful for me. I seriously wanted to write letters to you, Jennie, Jen, and –well, all of you ( yes, I know it sounds crazy but YOU are my TRIBE, the fact that you have no idea who I am is really irrelevant😉)

    Anyway, thank you for being you and for keeping it real.

    None of us know what we are doing. No one has it all together. But God and Grace help fix our brokenness.

    Let Grace Rule the Day!

  • All of your lyrics are on point! Roll Away your Stone – tears.

  • Lindsay

    I hear ya, Lindsey. I’m feeling tired, weary, and a little burnt out in the ministry life too. Some days I think it’s partially related to my singleness. I’ve been working in ministry at my church for almost 10 years, and it can be “heavy” to bear alone. I know that this restless, wrestling season will pass, and a new spring of joy in the ministry will return. But today while I’m in it? Well, your words rang true. Thank you for being vulnerable in sharing your thoughts with us.

  • Danielle

    This was so good! I’m so thankful to know that other people experience the same moments of wrestling. The song lyrics were awesome, I too often think of song lyrics to best convey me feeling at a given moment. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Amy Hartman

    You just put into words what I am currently struggling with. You also quoted songs that are on my favorites list. It’s like you are in my head! :0)
    My job is a ministry. My family (2 brothers and a sil) are my coworkers, 2 of whom are not walking with the Lord. My bosses are my parents who want to be retired. We care for challenged teenage boys, 9 of them. I know my ministry is to these boys, but I feel so overwhelmed sometimes that I can’t see God in all of this mess. They are hard to show grace to, but I know I should.
    The hard part of being single through this is feeling like I carry the burden alone. It’s hard to not have someone to physically go through life with. Your friends can only carry you so far. Thanks for sharing your heart and I look forward to the day I can attend an If gathering!

  • Cici

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I was asked to share my testimony at an upcoming event at our church and I do not have the standard neat and tidy testimony. I still struggle with a lot and want to be honest about this- that my life didn’t get effortless since accepting Christ and I have very real spiritual struggles. I will share these things…I won’t hold back because I think someone needs to know that it’s ok to go through this. Thank you for the encouragement.